What Does Steve Bannon Want?

This is the title of an article Christopher Caldwell, a senior editor at the “conservative” Weekly Standard, wrote for the New York Times on February 26, 2017.

Mr. Caldwell gets to the essence of it when he writes: “Steve Bannon…has…the same idea that tea party activists have: a class of regulators in the government has robbed Americans of their democratic prerogatives. That class now constitutes an ‘administrative state’ that operates to empower itself and enrich its crony-capitalist allies.” He also notes that Bannon thinks that “capitalism ought to rest on a Judeo-Christian foundation” (Caldwell’s words).

Then Caldwell goes off the tracks. “Free-market thinking has swallowed the [Republican] party whole, its onetime preoccupation with Judeo-Christian culture…along with it. A business orientation was what donors wanted. But voters never more than tolerated it. It was Pat Buchanan who in his 1992 run for president first called on Republicans to value jobs and communities over profits.”

Caldwell is a fine writer, but we must once again remind ourselves that, as Ludwig von Mises pointed out, business owners do not usually like free markets, because it subjects them to such intense discipline. In addition, in a free market, profits go to those who serve consumers to the satisfaction of those consumers, and it is those profits that create jobs and raises and sustain communities. To equate business owners with free markets or to think that there is a conflict between profits and jobs and communities or between free markets and Judeo-Christian values is simply nonsense, but unfortunately is commonplace on all sides of the political spectrum.